Thursday, March 09, 2006

From New Jersey Classroom To Liberia's Top Cop

This is the kind of stuff that simply can't be made up:
A New Jersey teacher is about to become Liberia's first female top cop, charged with rebuilding a police force in a nation ripped apart by a quarter century of war.

Her first act as national police chief, Beatrice Munah Sieh said Wednesday, will be issuing new badges and confiscating the old ones held by rebels, who have used the IDs to impersonate police and commit acts of torture and robbery.

Sieh, who was deputy director of police operations in the late 1990s but fled the West African country fearing for her life, was appointed to the top law and order post last month by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“Now that we're coming from war, (the job) is even harder,” Sieh said. “I know that we have to sacrifice (for) our country if we want peace and stability,” Sieh told The Times of Trenton.

Sieh, who was a special education teacher at a Trenton, N.J., middle school for the past six years, must still be confirmed by the Senate before taking up her duties, but she is expected win confirmation easily.

Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated former finance minister, took office in January as Africa's first elected female head of state and has said she would appoint women to other top posts.

Liberia has long been dominated by male politicians and warlords. Sieh is succeeding Joseph Kerkula as police chief.

Liberia is struggling to recover from years of war and lawlessness that ended in 2003 with warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor's flight into exile in Nigeria. Rebuilding a professional police force is a key step toward helping Liberia escape its violent past.

The United Nations is training the 3,500-strong police. So far, about 2,000 new police are on the streets, though they aren't allowed to carry guns yet.
But of course this lady isn't the only ex-teacher who has made a high-profile career change; this very well-known fellah did too.
See our latest education-related posts right here.